The Vermont State House (state capitol building) at 115 State Street in Montpelier, Vermont.

Tony Webster

Vermont Legalization Bill Now Sitting on Gov.’s Desk

Vermont lawmakers made history last week as the first state legislature to approve ending the prohibition of cannabis. Now, the bill to legalize adult-use cannabis is sitting on Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s desk — and he has until next Wednesday to decide what to do about it.

According to a Vermont Public Radio report, the governor is still undecided how to proceed. His three options are to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to passively become law without his signature after five days of inaction. According to the report, this could be the most-watched decision of Scott’s tenure as governor.

Gov. Scott has heard arguments from top health and law enforcement officials that he should veto the bill, though public opinion in Vermont is strongly in favor of legalization.

“I say veto this bill, stay strong with health and safety,” alcohol and drug counselor Margo Austin said.

“We are hopeful that the governor will … veto legislation like this that lacks important considerations of public safety and education,” said child psychiatrist Dr. David Rettew.

Support for the legalization bill has also been expressed, however, and not only from cannabis consumers and/or enthusiasts.

“In my view, those who oppose expansion of civil liberties consistently find themselves on the wrong side of history,” said David Cahill, State Attorney for Windsor County.

At a press conference on Thursday, the day the bill officially reached his desk, the governor offered mixed opinions about legalization. “I’ve said it along the campaign trail — I’m not philosophically opposed to it,” said Gov. Scott, but — “I’m not sure that the time is right now.”


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